In a staggering display of timeliness, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have taken the first steps toward the development of a new way of treating influenza. Current flu treatments battle the virus by hobbling the neuriminidase, the N in the H1N1 flu virus, impairing it’s ability to leave infected cells and further replicate itself.

But they don’t do much about the H – that’s hemmaglutinnin, the protein that allows flu viruses to bind to cells in the nose, throat and lungs, enter them and infect them. If Robert Linhardt and his team continue having success in their research, that might not be true much longer. Using techniques from the young science of “click chemistry” the team has created anti-viral agents that look similar to the sialic acid that hemmaglutinin binds to on cell surfaces. The idea is that the virus will be fooled into attaching to the anti-viral agent rather than actual cells, rendering it impotent and unable to effectively reproduce and continuing infecting further cells. 

The study is in it’s inception for now, and likely won’t hit markets for some time. But this research marks a fascinating step forward in treating influenza, and a piece of recently rare good news about the flu.

And it wasn’t the only positive development this week, which also demonstrated that surgical masks may actually be an effective countermeasure to spreading influenza, as well as THE fashion statement of the early 21st century. 

And if that’s not enough good new for you, here’s a video of a guy catching ducklings as they follow their mother off the ledge they’ve been nested on. IOf you can’t enjoy that, I don’t know what to tell you.

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